Tuesday, April 7, 2015

7 POV - The Secret to Creating a Memorable Setting

Point of view is one of the things that writers frequently forget to include when developing a setting, but because setting can help you unlock so many different aspects of character, POV is critical. Based on who they are and their individual experiences, each character is going to see the setting in different ways, and the objects and aspects within the setting will raise memories from their lives. Giving thought to those connections and varying perspectives within a setting will, in turn, help you create the fine details that bring the setting to life. The connection between setting and memory is one of the most powerful and most often forgotten tools in the writer’s arsenal.

When I started creating Watson Island, for example, I began with the history of South Carolina and I wove in different events from the area and how they touched on the descendants of the three privateers who settled there. Since my main character is a Watson, I was focused particularly on her family’s history, but since she knows nothing about that history when she arrives, I had to tell that history partly from the point of view of members of the other families. Each book within the trilogy changes the historical narrative to show how the family perspective and facts that have been passed down have changed the story and the families themselves.

And that’s the fun and challenging part about any setting. Each family, each person, is going to remember history in a way that flatters them. Not every fact gets passed down from generation to generation, and many not-so-factual things do get passed down: likes, prejudices, habits, perspectives.

As we are constructing our fictional words, we have to remember the bare bones—the basic worksheet:

  • Place
  • Season/time
  • Role in the story
  • Unique features and general history
  • Particular things of interest
  • Sounds, sights, smells
  • Associated characters
  • Things it reveals about the story

But we also have to look at the setting from the perspective of each of those associated characters. Each of them will have:

  • Sounds, smells, objects within the setting that trigger particular memories
  • Attitudes toward the setting and objects within It that tell us about that character
  • Ways of describing the setting and the objects in it that reveal how the character’s are changing as the story develops

As a writer, the more you think about the setting from the point of view of different characters, the more you will reveal the story to yourself. Setting gives us endless opportunities to weave together all the other elements of story: character, plot, theme, and mood/atmosphere.


by Arwen Elys Dayton
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Released 2/10/2015

For readers of A Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games comes an epic new series.

The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor. As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world. And she'll be with the boy she loves--who's also her best friend.

But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes. Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought.

And now it's too late to walk away.

Purchase Seeker at Amazon
Purchase Seeker at IndieBound
View Seeker on Goodreads

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  1. Paris from Anna and the French Kiss and Hogwarts because you could sense the wonder in the main characters' description.

    thank you so very much :)

  2. no fav; don't really care about settings

  3. The futuristic world of the Lunar Chronicles! I felt like I knew the place and it could be real.

  4. The desert in Forbidden because the author made me feel as if I were there.

  5. My favourite setting is from the novel "The Winner's Curse" by Marie Rutkoski, as the main character's personality and values are reflected in her perception of the world around her. Much of the setting is developed from her POV, so you can feel the disdain that she has for her privilege. Despite being wealthy and powerful, she knew that it came at a cost, the enslavement of an entire people. I loved this setting, as I could tell that everything the author wrote was carefully calculated and helped develop the plot.

  6. The magical world of Harry Potter is my most favorite setting. So many possibilities can happen.

  7. Any fantasy setting is cool since it is a different world and is not real :)


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